Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"The times they are a changin."

I was watching National Public Television yesterday and taking a tour of the Netherlands with Rick Steves. His shows are always interesting as he combines food, culture, history, and art with some of the practical aspects of travel. I used his book when we traveled through Italy a few years ago and found it saved some time and some money.

Anyway, after the show he was part of the money raising segment that NPTV does throughout the year to stay alive. During his comments he went off message several times and seemed to almost go into a subtle politcal rant. At one time he said that television stations were asking for certain information before they would broadcast his travel show. The questions were about what was to be shown from the country...i.e. would there be artwork or sculptures that showed private parts of the human body? If so, they would then decline showing the program. He gave a gentle but determined smile and looked deeply into the camera and said something to the effect that the Europeans have long gotten over this shame of the human body and that this art was so important for all to see, etc. etc.

I just sat in my chair trying to figure out what century I had dropped into? Parents guard your children well or the girls will be in Chadors and the boys will never know what a female face looks like much less where babies come from.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Notes on the wedding.

Since middle-angel asked, I will tell a little about the precious wedding ceremony. It took place in a small Lutheran church in Philadelphia. Very simple ceremony with men in tuxedos and bridesmaids in deep carmine dresses with lovely beading across the front in a V-shape. Bride was tall, blonde and had the next door look that nice girls have. She had the loveliest veil with small crystal beads sewn randomly and sparsely across the netting. She twinkled like starlight with each movement. They had a violinist, organist and a soloist. It was very nice.

Reception was in the Sheet Metal workers building at Penns Landing Caterers. This is a very dynamic building built by various sheetmetal workers groups. It has metal ceilings and walls and yet is very elegant (with candlelight reflecting off all the metal) and has a huge stage where the band played most of the night. (One of the singers in the band just happened to be my son-in-law's brother as well!) So my husband and I danced as best we might finding polka, salsa, mambo and foxtrot beats in many of the more modern tunes that suited the crowd of young people. We also attempted club dancing which must have given the younger crowd a good laugh. But we are no longer shy at our age, knowing that life goes on and doesn't wait for you to feel competent at anything.

Joined my daughter and her husband and his parents for Sunday Brunch at Creperie Beau Monde which I highly recommend if you are ever in the Philadelphia area. The crepes are made with buckwheat flour and yet are so light and amazing. There are dozens of fillings both savory and sweet, and the price is not high. The decor is sage green with gold leaf patterned wall paper. They even had a nice fire going for us on the rainy fall morning.

The wedding

There is a tradition at many American (and probably Western European) weddings where a small coin is placed beneath the cup or plate at each of the reception tables. If you get the coin, you get to take home the flower centerpiece. My son-in-law got the coin and since my daughter was a matron of honor and had a lovely nosegay as well as a nice floral bouquet for being part of the wedding party (son-in-law was also a groomsman) they let us take home this floral arrangement. So lovely!! Don't you think?

Wedding flowers

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving Day

Unusually easy day for me today. Only my son and his friend are joining us. Daughter and her husband are eating at the In-laws. We will join them on Saturday for a wedding and brunch on Sunday with the in-laws in Philadelphia.

So since only the four of us (can't remember when we have been this small over the holidays) I have not tried to kill myself with the cooking. We are having a cranberry stuffed turkey breast, separate sage stuffing,pear and fennel salad with spring greens and blue cheese, buttered sweet potatoes with the required marshmallow topping, herbed green beans with ham, creamed peas and pearl onions, and the traditional pumpkin pie with whipped cream (back-up is an apple walnut cake with vanilla ice cream.) (I forgot to get the rolls--oh well.)

Going to put out some pre-dinner snacks now.

I hope that everyone feels peace today, whether they are with relatives they like or don't like, friends or just on their own.

A small T-Day table but with large thankfulness.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Lost weekend

Daughter and I spent the early Saturday afternoon shopping for maternity clothes (which are awfully choking expensive if you care about cut) and a few holiday gifts. She still has a darling figure with just a little tummy showing at 4.5 months along. Then we ate at a nice Vietnamese restaurant called Green Papaya before heading for the movie.

“What the Bleep…” was certainly different than many documentaries. The movie tries to tie together quantum physics theory with man’s concept of God…among other things. That alone stirs controversy. While it presents some interesting and beautiful ideas it is done with elementary school graphics and junior high school explanations of science. The dumbing down for the movie audience leaves one with lots of basic questions about what the movie hoped to accomplish. It is worth seeing if you have a philosophical bent and it has motivated me to do some research in some of the areas they were discussing.

After we got out of the movie we headed to Borders’ Books for some browsing and then went back to my house and had a little slumber party. The baby was being very active so I got to feel it kicking and stretching. What wonderful memories it brought back! Later we watched “Finding Nemo” on cable which I had never seen. It is so beautiful and really somewhat scientifically accurate regarding ornamental fish. I’d like to get the CD. <>

On Sunday we slept in and then, like the good mother that I am, I made her a bacon and pancake breakfast. We headed downtown and did some window shopping while waiting for my husband to call. He got in around 1:00. My daughter had mentioned that she had had boxes of put-together furniture in her dining room for over a month. They needed to go upstairs to her baby room/guest room and her husband hadn’t been able to get a buddy to help move the heavy stuff. (This is no surprise as he rarely does any physical labor around the house…yard work is also tough on him. He is able to golf and go to football games on the weekends though. I am not totally critical here. He does work very hard at his job and earns a nice fat salary, but he tends then to want weekends totally free for fun as a result. He was currently at a football game and so wouldn’t be back until late that evening.) I asked my hubby if he was too tired to do some furniture moving and he was more than amenable if it was something for his little girl. So we spent the afternoon putting together a wooden bed, and unpacking several other boxes of furniture, and moving out the entire dining room so we could lay out her new rug. Whew! Got that done and then has some salsa and chips while we watched the Ravens win over Dallas. We had lived in Texas years ago, so we are Cowboys fans and the loss was a little bit of a downer. After that she had Tivo’d “Lost” which I had missed last week and so I got to see that and am now caught up for this coming week. “Lost” is one of those TV series that you really can’t miss or you are somewhat clueless for the following episode.

Then about 6:30 she headed out for a recruiting dinner for her company and her husband showed up and the three of us went out to a local Italian restaurant for a nice catch-up dinner. We talked some politics, some baby and some about his parents, whom he had seen over the weekend. His last grandmother is having lots of health problems and his parents are going through that time of life we all go through, wondering what to do with Mom or Dad in order to make their remaining life as easy but as safe as possible. We gave him our advice which he actually seemed to want to hear. What a long and busy weekend.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

View from my computer room.

That old nature vs. nurture question.

This Web Article tells me that maybe I was born a liberal?

What the bleep do we know?

I am meeting my daughter at 2:00 this afternoon for some shopping and then going to a movie. We are going to see What the Bleep do We know. I had actually purchased three tickets to this movie three weeks ago and then my husband got a kidney stone and we spent that night in the emergency room of the hospital. I bought two tickets online yesterday and hopefully with him still in Taiwan, there will be no emergencies. The movie has managed to stay in theatres just by word of mouth, so should be at least interesting. Especially this time of the year.

Shopping for the holidays has gotten much easier since I no longer shop for my brothers and sisters and their kids are mostly grown and away. My celebration of Christmas has become more and more a habit. While I still feel there is a God somewhere out there, I feel less and less it has to do with these mythological celebrations that mankind has invented on this planet. Why would God be a man? Why would he manifest himself as a man? What not appear as the very weakest among us, such as a crippled child or an old woman? (I mean in the biblical story.) Why would he ever take sides in a war where his 'creations' destroy each other. If God is perfect, then there is no place for killing or hatred.

While I do not begrudge anyone in their beliefs...after all whatever gets us through the day...I just look deep into my heart and soul and cannot lie to myself. I have no fear of Satan. If such an evil power exists, it has no control over me. I have no fear of death...just fear of pain. I see myself as a biological animal on this planet. If my spiritual component exists beyond...great. I do not fear a punishment for my honesty with myself. I am willing to use all the tools available to me and do not refuse anyone's prayers.

But, I know, with little exception, I am responsible for myself and what happens to me. My husband also feels this way. My grandchild that is due in April will be raised as a Catholic...probably the farthest road in life from mine. I hope that our spiritual paths will cross often, though.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

This is Reale

L. stopped by my cubicle and told me every time she saw her boss his face was red and he was angry. She was avoiding him as she did her work.

She also told me that she was afraid he would try something since he knew where she lived. I told her that he must be afraid to get caught and wouldn't dare.

"No, Mis T..., this is reale..Hewould not do this himself, he could hire some one to hurt me."

Just in case I didn't get it... I live in middle-class white America where if someone wants to f.... you sideways you hire a bigger dick called a lawyer! Not always an option in that other America.

The Next Installment

L. was here today at work. It seems that she and her union boss and her boss-boss were meeting on the third floor of the building. She was there for quite a while. She is pretty distraught, but she is now temporarily back at work.

I got more of the story. It appeared she had gone down to the garage to talk to her husband as he was flying out to El Salvador since his mother had a heart attack and passed on. He was trying to coordinate stuff. When the boss saw her, he waited until her husband left, and then approached her about not being on the job and that he would have to fire her. She responded that he could take 15 minutes off her salary as she had an emergency. His response was that he would ignore everything if she just joined him in his car! .. which of course, she refused.

She has no witnesses to all of this. Although she has been telling me for quite a while that this boss has been harassing her. I guess she is talking to a lawyer--maybe one provided by her union--but she needs a letter from someone else that states this guy is harassing her. There were no witnesses. What can she do? While he may have harassed other women (although there are few) on the job, they are not going to risk their minimum wage jobs by coming forward, I am sure.

This is the real world that I don't have to face each day.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

The saga continues

Sent out an email to all of my colleagues at work today and 90% either wanted to sign a letter of recommendation or write their own for L. They are also collecting some money. Everyone was so shocked that she got fired...but it appears since she had the day shift, someone higher up had a relative that needed the day shift. I am watching the quality of cleaning VERY closely.

Spent my lunch hour surfing the Internet for cleaning jobs and cleaning companies that might have some benefits. I was supposed to give her the signed letters and info today, but she had to leave my house to pick up her son at school before I got home.

I will meet with her on Saturday. Right now her only employment is cleaning my house and the apartment of another person. I hope she finds some type of work with the holidays so close and the job market so poor, I have misgivings.

Monday, November 15, 2004

I have this friend....

I took a long weekend holiday this last week by taking Friday off after the Veterans Day holiday. So today was my first day back at work in a while.

We have this lovely gal from El Salvador who cleans the restrooms and all the offices on our floor. We got to be good friends as I help her with learning English (and she tried to help me with my Spanish) during the times she comes by my cubicle. She also became friends with many of the other people on the floor. After a few months she asked if I knew anyone who needed their house cleaned. I do! Since I have moved into this rental unit I am not nearly so motivated to keep it clean and my 25 year old son moving in pretty much put out any residue of anal retentive cleaning I had left. (I have yet to see the carpet in his room.) So, she has been cleaning my house on a regular basis for a number of months.

It is great for me and I think good for her.

Well, today, when she didn't come by, I asked our Secretary what was up with L. The Secretary then told me that she had been fired on Wednesday last! L. has had a lot of problems with the management of this cleaning firm over the months. The manager has been sexually insulting to her, they use her as a slave on holidays to clean the company owners huge house with no extra pay, etc. Our staff have gone to bat for her, making it clear that we felt she was excellent in her work. But now that my boss is out with surgery, they have gone in for the kill behind our back. I am just very, very sick about this. Her husband works construction as a temp and has no health insurance. Her 5-year-old son is hearing impaired and needs good health care and good educational support. She has a 16 year old daughter and mother back in El Salvador that she sends money to....This is just a nightmare.

I have to find her phone number (somewhere in my files) and call her. There must be something I can do to help....ugh.

I hate it when someone who is hard working, honest, and reliable as she is, gets this treatment. There are so many assholes out there who get away by doing no work. The secretary thinks they have probably replaced her with a relative that needed a job. I am sick, sick, sick about this.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Old Friends

I am sitting here today waiting for an old friend to join me for breakfast with her husband. She and hubby have been touring the U.S. from Colorado. They came out to N.C. to visit their daughter and son-in-law who are in school (at least the daughter is working on a Master's Degree in graphic arts.) They are on their way up the East Coast to tour some more of the U.S. before heading back home. Both are retired although they run a small art studio in Colorado.

I haven't seen this gal in about 10 years. We shared an apartment in Colorado Springs when I was in my first year of teaching right out of college. We taught at different schools, but this was our first real time on our own in a city far away from parents and making real money. We met another friend from somewhere in the South (a beautiful blonde with tremendous poise and charm as only Southern ladies have) and all three of us took snow skiing lessons together. We hung out together on Fridays at the local Mexican restaurant and bar and we had fun on the weekends. We took off one spring on a five day camping trip...just two girls. It was great.

Such fun days, and as I look back I see that I was so very young and naive. I was dating a smartass cadet from the Airforce Academy (actually told me how to dress when I met him at the Academy). He was a Senior and therefore could have a Mustang car which he really thought made him so hot. Too bad that I could never appreciate that type of thing! Anyway, after we drifted apart he dated and married my friends sister. They are still together, I think. I'll have to ask when she gets here.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The Other Side of the Looking Glass

I spend too much of my time worrying about my hair color. It is graying, but not in the striking Heloise or Cruella DeVil way. More in the way of dirty herringbone. So I dye it. I dye it myself until I am sick of the work and then I make an appointment to get a professional dye job.

I have been without a regular hairdresser since my favorite gal from Iran retired over two years ago. Therefore, I go from place to place looking for a home. In desperation yesterday, I went back to the high end salon my daughter chose for her wedding a few years back.

This is really high end--customers in tight jeans including those in their 60's---everyone with botox smiles., little four-year-olds dressed like Brittany Spears, etc. It is also expensive. I always feel like Cinderella's step sister in these places. I can barely afford them, and I feel like such a hypocrite when surrounded by all these dames that clearly relish in all this attention. I also feel like a hypocrite, because I know it should all be about getting old gracefully.

I decided to get the dye and highlight and cut. Came to over $200.00. I am so NOT worth that much for such a temporary fix in this aging process. But, I also hate not looking my best. Took three women and three hours and I do look much better. At least this will get me through an upcoming wedding and the holidays.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Here is a close-up...it appears to be a white feathery fungus...yuck.

This swan-like gourd was purchased for a fall centerpiece on my breakfast table. He/she has started growing feathers!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Small stuff

Slept in (8:00 is late for me since I usually get up a 5:00) on a late Saturday morning . Hubby is on travel in Japan and my son who lives with us and works the night shift got in late and is still sleeping.

What luxury to do what I want when I want! I did step aerobics for about 25 minutes and then some stretching. I should have done 30 minutes more but the spirit was not with me. Then I filled the tub with hot water and took a long luxurious bath with salts and creams and perfumes etc. Oooooo. Never thought when I was the mother of two toddlers that I would ever see these days again.

I have to drop off a gift of Godiva chocolates for my boss today. She is recuperating from cancer surgery and the prognosis looks very good, but she will not be back at work for weeks.

Noticed something funny as I was drying off in the bathroom. My husband left a sticky note on his mirror to run an errand when he returns. Good idea the note, but he started with his name "J.,...remember to" Why would you put your name on a note to yourself? He is one strange guy!

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Just one day please, and make it frozen.

I was posting to another blog and trying to remember an anecdote from Andrew Tobias. I couldn't remember if I spelled his name correctly and decided to Google him and found his home page. Of course as we all do, I got distracted and started reading his archive.

He was talking about something called "AndyDay" as described below:

"But what I really would like is simply to have an eighth day in every week when you all were frozen. No newspapers, no magazines, no e-mail or junk mail or mail mail or phone calls—just a chance to catch up."

Gee one whole day when everyone was frozen except me. What would I do? What would I do? I don't think catching up would be on my agenda. OK, I am going to wipe this smile off my face and go make a cup of tea.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Isn't that special?

We were ever so polite to each other at work today. The winners and losers seemed to carry this 'best manners' behavior. Everyone was smiling (the Democrats had a vanilla smile and the Republicans had a slightly guilty smile as if they were sorry they had gently rear-ended you at the stop sign.) Maybe this bodes well for our country.

"Excuse me, but did you get my email yesterday...no rush, just asking." "Hey, can I help with that seminar on Friday? I have some free time" "Has anybody heard how L. survived her medical procedure?" "Is that screen saver your granddaughter? How cute!" All the same small talk, yet it seemed so scripted.

Well, he does get the chance now to clean up this mess. I keep getting this weird feeling he hoped that he would lose...I don't think he wants four more years. Really, I don't. Of course that feeling doesn't extend to the 'folks' who actually run this country.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Your privilege and your responsibility

The US of A is the greatest place on this earth. Please vote. Please offer someone a ride so they can vote.